• Exhibition Industry Urges Governor Pence to Modify Religious Freedom Restoration Act

    Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act has received criticism from numerous individuals around the country, causing many companies and organizations to rethink hosting exhibitions and events in the state. The newly signed bill prohibits the government from substantially burdening a citizen from practicing his or her religion, but critics say it openly allows for religion to be used as an excuse for discrimination.

    Recently, the executive committee of IAEE recently wrote an open letter to Governor Pence of Indiana urging them to clarify that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act would not allow discrimination. The letter, signed by Chairperson Megan Tanel and President David DuBois, states that IAEE cannot support any legislation or actions that could lead to discrimination at any level.

    “It has already become very apparent that many businesses, meetings, conventions and exhibitions have either already done so, or are considering, boycotting Indiana for current and future engagements. Such boycotts negatively impact Indiana employees who work in the hospitality, exhibitions and events industry,” wrote Tanel and DuBois.

    IAEE joins the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), Visit Indy and a number of other exhibition and events industry organizations that are expressing concern about the recent passing of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in Indiana.

    The entire letter can be viewed below:

    31 March 2015

    Dear Governor Pence:

    The International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE) is a Dallas-based association with over 9,000 members in 51 countries. Our members own and/or manage over 14,000 exhibitions and events in the United States. The direct spend of the exhibitions and events conducted in this country totals $69 billion. Exhibitions support thousands of jobs across our country, generate millions of dollars in incremental taxes (for and in both cities and states) and help to create educational opportunities for thousands on an annual basis. In fact, many products are introduced into the marketplace as a result of exhibitions. Your businesses across Indiana are the frequent recipients of our industry’s important work and economic impact.

    With that in mind, we respectfully request that your office work with the Indiana General Assembly to adopt corrective language to Senate Bill 101, The “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” clarifying that the law does not allow discrimination of any kind against any segment of the population. It has already become very apparent that many businesses, meetings, conventions and exhibitions have either already done so, or are considering, boycotting Indiana for current and future engagements. Such boycotts negatively impact Indiana employees who work in the hospitality, exhibitions and events industry.

    The “Hoosier State” has a decades-long reputation for delivering world-class hospitality and service to ALL visitors and attendees. IAEE and our members cannot support any legislation or actions that could lead to discrimination at any level. Nor can we support the boycotting of exhibitions, meetings and events as a weapon in this debate.

    Thank you for your immediate attention to this important matter.

     

    Regards,

    Megan Tanel, CEM

    Chairperson of IAEE

    And

    Vice President of Exhibitions and Events

    Association of Equipment Manufacturers

    David DuBois, CAE, CMP, FASAE, CTA

    President and CEO

    International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE)

     cc: President Pro Tempore of the Senate David C. Long, Senate Majority Leader Brandt Hershman, Senate Minority Leader Timothy Lanane, Speaker of the House Brian C. Bosma, House Majority Leader Judson McMillin, House Minority Leader Scott Pelath, Visit Indy President and CEO, Leonard Hoops

    Additional commentary on the position taken by IAEE, ASAE and many others from the exhibitions and events space can be found at:

    http://www.tsnn.com/news-blogs/trade-show-industry-rebukes-indianas-passing-religious-freedom-restoration-act

    http://www.tradeshowexecutive.com/archive/industry-news/indiana-moves-quell-uproar-over-religious-rights-law